Homicide Investigations – From Fact to Theory -Black Dahlia Murder to Jeanne French Lipstick Murder to Chicago Red Lipstick Murders to Manila Jigsaw Murder to Zodiac

January 2, 2024
Birch Bay, Washington

It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts. - Arthur Conan Doyle

Sherlock Holmes makes the above elementary observation in A Study in Scarlet (1887) and this is the exact point that I would like to make this morning as we begin our New Year 2024.
Some critics of my now twenty-four-year investigations have dismissed them out-of-hand once they learned or were told that I went from accusing my father of committing “The 1947 Black Dahlia Murder” to then claiming he was also the 1968-9 “Zodiac Killer.” Those sensational crimes were then followed with my publication of The EarlyYears Part I (the 1920s) and Part II (the 1930s) attributing another two dozen potential serial crimes to his nearly fifty-year killing spree. (1921-1969)
Granted without reading the investigations (“the data”) and being unaware of his background and training, and just hearing the allegations by word of mouth, I too would likely dismiss Hodel’s “theories” out of hand. I would consider him “a troubled soul with a hyperactive imagination and some serious daddy issues.” I might even make a snarky remark something like, “Where’s he going next- to the grassy knoll in Dallas?”
Without rehashing points made in my Squad Room Blogs over the past fifteen-plus years, let me here simply emphasize that in all of the now fifty murders I have attributed to my father,  George Hill Hodel,  over the past fifty years, I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN LED BY AND FOLLOWED THE DATA–THE FACTS.
This is basic Homicide 101 and was true in every one of the more than three hundred (300) homicides I investigated during my 17-year-assignment at LAPD Hollywood Detectives THE FACTS LEAD YOU.

Here is a brief summary of how the FACTS (“data”) led me from BDA to FRENCH to DEGNAN to LALU to ZODIAC.
  1. No need to represent my Black Dahlia investigation-the facts establishing Dr. George Hill Hodel was always the “prime suspect” and that LAPD and the LADA solved the case in 1950 are fully known. It never was “my theory”. I simply discovered their solution and made it public.
  2. The facts in the 1949 LAPD/LADA Files indicating they suspected that the killer of the Black Dahlia might also be Chicago’s “Red Lipstick Murderer” led me to that investigation and its facts and subsequent linkage and discovery of George Hodel’s crime signature and M.O. of posing the bodies next to a street name as a “clew.”
    The Facts- In 1945-6 the “Red Lipstick Murderer” in the kidnap of little Suzanne Degnan, age 6, her killer chose a bisection room in the basement of a street just two blocks from the kidnap location, named  WINTHROP. (George Hodel was a “Ripperologist” and knew that one of his heroes, “Jack the Ripper” posed a victim’s body off that same street, “Winthrop” in the Ripper serial crimes). George Hodel then poses the Degnan body parts off a street named HOLLYWOOD. A year later, in 1947, GHH poses victim Elizabeth “Black Dahlia”Short’s body off the street named DEGNAN.  That was followed in just three weeks by George Hodel posing a new victim’s body, Jeanne French, off a street named MOUNTAIN VIEW, which is the name of the cemetery where victim Elizabeth Short was buried just a few weeks prior. Finally, after fleeing the U.S. and reestablishing himself as a psychiatrist and Market Research expert residing in Manila, he commits the Lucila Lalu “Jigsaw Murder”, a kidnap surgical bisection, and poses her body just two miles from his home off a street named ZODIAC.

Forced to follow the facts, that pointed me to the unsolved serial crimes in 1968-69 San Francisco attributed to the serial killer known as ZODIAC.
Initially in checking out those crimes and seeing the “suspect was a much younger man in his Twenties or Thirties” I dismissed any possible connection. But, a few weeks later, I  decided to look deeper which by following the facts, led me to discover the fact that the best witness description by SFPD officer Donald Fouke was documented in his SFPD Memo as a much older suspect with an age close to “45 years”. That led me to discover the fact the subsequent Zodiac witness composites were picture-perfect to George Hodel and my in-depth analysis of the thirty-two unique Crime Signatures and M.O. (see PDF) that became the ZODIAC investigation as presented in Most Evil I and Most Evil II.
Subsequent Zodiac Composite sketches from 1969 witness descriptions
Crime Signatures MO update Thirty-two (32) Identical Black Dahlia/Zodiac Crime Signature/MOs. (SKH Note- If a detective finds three or four identical unique signatures in comparing several unsolved murders they will focus on the possibility that the same suspect may have committed the crimes. Here we have thirty-two!) And here is a video presentation of the same:


Looking forward to an exciting 2024.











  1. Dennis Effle on January 2, 2024 at 5:56 pm

    That’s a great quote from Doyle. Your work certainly stands the test of time on its own. My wish for the new year is for your delayed project to bring the entire saga of GHH to the video market be finally brought to fruition this year. When that happens, those nay-sayers voices will fade into background noise. Your series of books are both accurate and disturbing for those who bother seek the truth of history.

    • Steve Hodel on January 2, 2024 at 6:06 pm

      Thanks, Dennis. Happy New Year to YOU. I have a very good feeling about this coming year. While there will always be naysayers (“No Steve, the world IS FLAT”) I am encouraged by the ever-increasing positive responses from actual readers. Hope to get down to LA this year and say “HI” in person.

  2. Kelly Hodel on January 3, 2024 at 1:56 am

    You have meticulously outlined the evidence, Steve, you have made your points, you have proved these murders, anyone doubt your words don’t want these murders solved. Bravo brother, you did it!

    • Steve Hodel on January 3, 2024 at 9:31 am

      Kelly H:
      Thanks Bro. Looking forward to this Ne w Year. Hope to be able to get down to Tinsel Town and see you and Angel in ’24. XO Steve.

  3. Joakim on January 3, 2024 at 6:45 am

    But Holmes also was a speculator: observations of what seemed to be true (tiny details that pointed in a direction). His guessing about such things made a difference, it opened up closed areas.

    • Steve Hodel on January 3, 2024 at 9:36 am

      Well yes, of course. But, his “speculations” came from what was presented in the original “data”. The fitting together of the many disparate puzzle pieces (thoughtprints) is what “makes the case.” But, their source in the empirical evidence does not come from the observer, the “detector” but exists apriori.

      • Joakim on January 3, 2024 at 6:26 pm

        He allowed himself to “daydream” within a rigid case frame (signs or subtle evidence). Perhaps that was the intended lesson with the character: fantasy on a tight leash. Too much/little of something: locks without key.

  4. Carol Kehrley on January 6, 2024 at 8:18 am

    Steve, you certainly state valid evidence and base your conclusions on factual, intensive research. Definite mental aberrations in your father’s psyche.
    Hope 2024 is a good year for you and that you don’t discover any more evil doings of your father. 🙁

    • Steve Hodel on January 6, 2024 at 8:24 am

      Carol K:
      Thanks and wishing you and yours a healthy happy ’24. I think the now nine books pretty much cover my father’s crimes spanning fifty years and BDA IV presents most of the evidence in trial, so don’t see me looking for any new crimes. Will let the public and armchair detectives take over from here. Best.

      • Yolie💎 on January 6, 2024 at 10:39 am

        Kristel, Rap’cha and I unite in the Sacred WombSpace to send you a deep cleansing, centering breath and powerful VIBRATIONS for ancestral HEALING! We send to you the wish that 2024 will be your year to heal your ancestral lineage! And the year that you return to Whittier!
        Peace to you!
        Peace to Brother Kel!
        Peace to FaunaElizabeth!
        Peace to powerful Dorero of the Sacred WombSpace!
        Peace to noble Rima, earthly Guardian of Steve!
        Peace always! The Peace of Ancestral HEALING!💖💖💖

  5. Dan Lackey on January 6, 2024 at 10:14 pm

    Hi Steve,
    Happy New Year!
    The fact that you credited Det. Jamison for solving the Black Dahlia case, should speak volumes to anyone having doubts.. You are seeking the truth about your Father’s crimes. If you were seeking fame for yourself, you wouldn’t have said that the case was solved back in 1950. You could have taken all the credit for solving the case and nobody, but you would have known any different. That is not you. It wasn’t about taking credit, it was about the truth that the Black Dahlia murder should not be a cold case. It was also about how GHH was able to kill many more, because LAPD decided to cover it up. All the Best, Dan

    • Steve Hodel on January 7, 2024 at 8:50 am

      Dan L.
      Hi Dan, Happy New Year to you and yours. Thanks as always for your support and important contributions through the years. Yes, Lt. Jemison definitely wore a white hat by locking away the “second set of books”-containing the solving of the case(s). With LAPD’s Chief of Detectives, Thad Brown, destroying all of LAPDs copies, I’m sure he went to his grave confident the truth would not will out. Chief Brown had to be haunted by his and DDA Simpson’s 1937 arrest, trial, conviction, and execution of an innocent man (Albert Dyer) for GHH”s (and likely accomplice Fred Sexton’s) “Inglewood Babes” triple murders. That had to be his/their main motivation for the later coverup and allowing GHH to flee the country. Best, Steve

  6. Barry Guerrero on March 11, 2024 at 2:35 am

    I know it came just a few years later, but odd the resemblance of the S.F.P.D.’s first sketch of the Zodiac, to the first sketch made of D.B. Cooper. I almost thought that that’s who I was looking at, for a few seconds there.

  7. Kola Feichko on March 11, 2024 at 10:10 pm

    Hello Steve! I am doing a project on The Black Dahlia and have to make a connection with similarities and differences to another unsolved case. Like you have done with the Black Dahlia Avenger and the Zodiac Killer I have chosen to do this part of my project with the similarities between the 2 serial killers. I have multiple similarities and differences already but need evidence to back it up. Is it possible you could lead me towards more evidence of the handwriting, phone calls, and insignias of the 2 killers?

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